NHL on NBCSN: Hurting Red Wings host Flyers on Rivalry Night

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Detroit Red Wings host the Philadelphia Flyers at Joe Louis Arena at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

All of a sudden, things have become bleak for the Detroit Red Wings.

Pavel Datsyuk was already out after being elbowed in the head by Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen and now they’re without captain Henrik Zetterberg due to a back injury that’ll have him on the shelf for at least a couple weeks.

With other starters like Danny DeKeyser and Todd Bertuzzi banged up as well, it’d be easy for the Red Wings to sit around and feel bad about themselves. Instead, they head into their game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday riding a four-game winning streak, as well as five of their last six, and sitting just three points back of Boston for the Atlantic Division lead.

Getting them through the tough times are a handful of guys you may not have expected. Goalie Jonas Gustavsson has played exceptionally this season including winning three of the last four games. That fourth win was a shutout from Jimmy Howard. Sometimes things just work out like that.

Forwards Darren Helm, Daniel Alfredsson, and recent AHL recall Gustav Nyquist have picked up the offensive slack with Helm and Nyquist turning into goal-scorers. Helm has seven goals in 14 games and Nyquist has four goals in the six games he’s played this season. Now that he’s not heading back to the minors, getting Nyquist back in as injury disaster struck has turned into a god-send.

With everything coming up roses at the moment, you wonder when fortune might start going against the Red Wings. If you’re a believer in karma, perhaps their play is making up for the injuries to their two superstars.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $2,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

As for the Flyers, we got a look at them on Monday night during their 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild. Philly had been on a roll previous to that loss as they’ve turned their season around since the brutal start that cost Peter Laviolette his job and ushered in Craig Berube.

That loss to Minnesota saw Ray Emery wind up the fall-guy in goal meaning Steve Mason likely gets the call tonight. We discussed Mason’s numbers this season back on Monday and they’ll need him to stand tall to keep the Wings at bay.

With Claude Giroux getting his groove back, things should be looking up for the Flyers. Of course, things don’t always go as planned. Vincent Lecavalier missed Monday’s game due to an issue with a back spasms. With him leading the team in goals, you can understand a bit better why they were shutout.

Now that these two teams are Eastern Conference foes, revisiting what made them rivals for at least one postseason back in 1997 makes it seem like doubly ancient history. It also means having to see this highlight a couple more times a year.

Yeo more surprised than anyone to learn of Stastny injury

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For the second time since taking over as head coach, Mike Yeo has lost the services Paul Stastny.

This time, though, Yeo was caught off guard.

“It may sound misleading, but it was a completely separate injury that kept him out of (Tuesday’s) game and one that we believed would have him possibly in the lineup for us tonight,” Yeo told the Post-Dispatch of Stastny’s lower-body ailment, which will keep him out week-to-week. “We were surprised to hear that this came about yesterday.

“Believe me, I was probably more surprised than all the fans out there. So it’s a difficult one, but one that we’ll have to overcome.”

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious — and it very well may not haven been — but that’s irrelevant now, as an entirely new issue could potentially sideline Stastny for the remainder of the regular season.

The Blues are in good shape for a playoff spot, up eight points on L.A., but are jockeying with Nashville for third spot in the Central Division (both head into tonight’s action with 83 points). St. Louis also has 10 games left.

There’s no denying Stastny’s absence will be felt. Back when he missed four games in early February, Yeo noted how integral he was to the club.

“He’s usually the first guy over the boards for a power-play faceoff or the first guy over the boards for a penalty-kill faceoff, and those are key,” Yeo said, per the Blues website. “He’s a very important player for us. You don’t take out a top-line center from too many lineups where they don’t feel that.”

Limited to just 66 games this season, Stastny has still managed to score 18 goals — third-most on the team — and 40 points. He also averages a healthy 19:08 TOI per night.

Kings give another kid a look, recall AHL All-Star Brodzinski

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Last summer, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter stressed that some of the club’s young prospects needed to make an impact at the NHL level.

And now it’s happening.

Following the recalls and NHL debuts of Adrian Kempe and Paul LaDue, the Kings have brought up Jonny Brodzinski from AHL Ontario, the club announced on Thursday.

Brodzinski, 23, made the AHL All-Star team this year and leads the Reign in goals, with 25 through 56 games. The former St. Could State sniper left school early two years ago to join the Kings organization, after L.A. took him in the fifth round of the ’13 draft.

As mentioned above, this recall is in lockstep with what’s developed throughout the year. Kempe, 20, was the club’s first-round pick (29th overall) in ’14 and has fared well since joining the big club, with six points in 16 games.

LaDue, 24, was a sixth-round pick in ’12 that — like Kempe and Brodzinski — fared well in the American League before getting recalled in February. LaDue has appeared in 15 games for the Kings, scoring five points while averaging 16:25 TOI per night.

Los Angeles is still technically in the playoff race, but sits eight points back of Nashville for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference — with just 10 games to play. As such, the focus might now shift to giving some youngsters NHL experience.

Brodzinski will have to wait for his, however. Per LA Kings Insider, it doesn’t look like he’ll play tonight, when the Kings host the Jets at Staples.

 

 

Polak gets two games for boarding Bjorkstrand

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Roman Polak‘s hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand has drawn more than the ire of Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella.

Today, the NHL announced that Polak, a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been suspended two games for boarding Bjorkstrand Wednesday in Columbus.

In making the ruling, the league’s Department of Player Safety determined that Polak sent Bjorkstrand “violently” into the boards from behind, causing an injury. The DoPS also noted that the hit was avoidable, with the onus on Polak to “ensure that he avoids this hit entirely, or at the very least, minimizes the force of the impact.”

You can watch the full ruling below:

Wild prospect Kunin leaves Wisconsin, turns pro

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Minnesota is getting one of its prized youngsters in the mix.

Luke Kunin, the club’s first-round pick (15th overall) at last year’s draft, is leaving the University of Wisconsin following his sophomore campaign, per the Star-Tribune. Kunin will reportedly join Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Iowa on an amateur tryout.

Kunin, 19, is coming off a pretty successful campaign. He was the first soph to captain the Badgers in over 40 years, and led the team in goals (22) and points (38). That came after he captained the U.S. to gold at the world juniors, scoring four points in seven games.

Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Kunin will play out this year in the minors, and his entry-level deal will kick in next season. That means he won’t be with the Wild at all this year — regular season or playoffs.

As mentioned, Kunin is just one of the many talented prospects Minnesota has in the fold. Russian Kirill Kaprizov, Sweden’s Joel Eriksson-Ek and Kunin’s U.S. junior teammate, Jordan Greenway, all showed extremely well at the worlds.